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Children in state care legal cases

CASES

We strategically litigate in cases where we can expose patterns of institutional racism resulting in the removal of children from Romani families. Many of these cases are ongoing, and can take years to complete but collectively can help to expose this injustice and contribute towards ending it forever.

You think you have a case for us?

Hungary

A Romani new-born baby was removed from his biological family and placed with foster parents because of child protection authorities’ negative stereotypes against Roma and because of poverty – despite this being prohibited by law. The case is pending before the ECtHR.

B.T. civil case

We are helping a family secure damages following their child being kept in state care for an inordinately long time (for which we already have a decision establishing was unlawful).

Removal-at-birth class action case

Romani families in Kesznyéten whose older children were taken into care often have their new-born children also taken into care. We have supported them to bring a civil claim on behalf of several families challenging this as discrimination. We lost the lawsuit at the first instance, but we appealed against the decision. The second-instance court changed the first-instance decision and found that all the defendant authorities had violated the privacy rights of the members of the two families.

Nográd County actio popularis case

This is an actio popularis case based on data about the number of Romani children in care in Nográd county (over 80%, compared with a Romani population of 20%). The first instance judgment from the Metropolitan Court in Budapest is available here. 

The press release of the decision is available here. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Hungary in 2023, although only on socio-economic discrimination.

Albania

The case of N.B.

A Romani woman had her child taken into care because of poverty. We are claiming that this was unlawful and that she suffered intersectional discrimination. We supported her to fight her case in court. 

Submission to the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination

We sent general information to the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination about Romani children being taken into state care disproportionately in Albania.

Read the judgment from European Committee of Social Rights here.

We submitted a complaint about the Czech authorities' refusal to collect data disaggregated by ethnicity about children in care, which we say is necessary to eliminate the discrimination that exists in the care system.

Czech Republic

Decision of European Committee of Social Rights:

This is an actio popularis case based on data we obtained about the number of children in care in Belgrade and one other region.

Serbia
Bulgaria

Complaint to the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria

We submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman claiming that there is an over-representation of Romani children in state care in Bulgaria. According to data collected by the ERRC, 63% of children in institutional care in Bulgaria were Romani in 2011. Since then, despite some  progress on the deinstitutionalization process in the country, the ERRC alleges that Romani children are still significantly more represented in the childcare system. Romani children are either ‘abandoned’ to state care by their families due to poverty, or removed from their biological families by the state. We allege that this applies to all types of institutions and care: from nursing homes for infants and young children, through residential care centres for children with or without disabilities, to foster care placements. Based on the evidence that we gathered, we requested the Ombudsman to launch an investigation.

A Romani child taken into care was not placed with her grandmother, with the explicit reason being that the grandmother was Romani and that they believed there was a risk of kidnapping among Roma.

Italy

‘October 11’ case

A Romani mother had her two daughters taken into care where they were abused. They were subsequently moved into foster care. Our case about the attempt to get the daughters returned to her care, particularly one of the daughters.

Child Disappearance civil case

Romani girls were abused by staff in a care institution ("25 May") in Skopje and disappeared at times from the institution without supervision. We brought a civil complaint about their ill-treatment and discrimination based on ethnicity.

North Macedonia

Complaint to the People’s Advocate for Children’s Rights of the Republic of Moldova

The ERRC complained to the People’s Advocate for Children that children living in poverty, in particular Romani children in Moldova, are disproportionately exposed to family separation and placement in state care. The ERRC claims that this is due to deep poverty that Romani families face in the country. According to the research which the ERRC conducted in 2020, Roma are disproportionally affected by poverty, unemployment, poor inadequate housing and poor education in the country, which is the main cause leading to the placement of Romani children in institutional care. Based on the evidence presented by the ERRC, we asked the Ombudsman to launch an investigation.

Republic of
Moldova
Romania

Complaint to the Deputy People’s Advocate - the Ombudsman for Children

We complained to the Ombudsperson that despite international and European human rights law, poverty remains the main driver for separation of children from their families in Romania, with over 50% of children in Romania suffering from severe deprivation and almost one-third of children in Romania living below the national poverty line.  Romani children are disproportionately affected by such deprivation, therefore they are disproportionately exposed to family separation and placement in state care due to poverty. According to the research which the ERRC conducted in Romania in 2020, in the counties surveyed where Roma constitute less than 15% of the total population, it was estimated that nearly 60% of children taken into state care in the counties are Roma. Based on the evidence presented by the ERRC, we asked the Ombudsman to launch an investigation.

Slovakia

Complaint to the Public Defender for Children’s Rights of Slovakia

The ERRC alleges that there is an over-representation of Romani children in state care in Slovakia. According to data collected by the ERRC, up to 70% of the children in institutional care in in Slovakia were Romani. The research showed that the root causes for this overrepresentation and for taking children to state care are poverty, low social status, segregation, unemployment, school abstention, and pathologies such as drug and/or alcohol use deriving from deprivation that have been unaddressed for a long time. Lack of adequate social and financial assistance to families are also rendering families even more vulnerable. Based on the evidence presented by the ERRC, we asked the Ombudsman to launch an investigation.

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